Hostile Work Environment

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A hostile work environment is where a person is subject to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature to such an extent that it alters the conditions of the person's employment and creates an abusive working environment.

In a hostile work environment, the harasser may be a woman or a man. He or she can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

Harassment that constitutes a hostile environment is anything that creates fear, intimidates, ostracizes, psychologically or physically threatens, embarrasses, ridicules, or in some other way unreasonably over burdens or precludes an employee(s) from reasonably performing his/her work.

Harassment comes in many forms and areas including:

  • Gender, sexual, race, ethnicity, religion, disabilities.
  • From supervisors, co-workers, suppliers, customers, business partners, strangers, etc.
  • Happens in the office, at field worksites, on the workplace premises, on the way to and from worksites, etc.
  • Employers and managers/supervisors have a legal duty to prevent employees from being harassed. In some instances, "not knowing" is not a legal defense.
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